Category Archives: Holidays

Personal: Happy New Year 2010!

Well, the clock hasn’t struck midnight yet, but it has in other places.. So, happy 2010!!

My husband I were supposed to go out and see the fireworks tonight, but it looks like it’s raining, so they’ll probably be cancelled.

So, instead of doing our traditional ‘freezing our butts off near the waterfront to watch fireworks’, it looks like we’ll be staying at home watching a movie and eating my not-ashamed-to-say awesome creamy chicken enchiladas with tomatilla sauce, rice, homemade salsa with loads of fresh cilantro (my favorite!) and a chicken and ginger noodle soup with vegetables. Salad, too.. Can’t forget the salad. (Turks like my husband would literally just fall down and die without their bread and salad at every meal)

Now, I just wish we could somehow sneak out and watch Avatar 3-D at the IMAX.. Then it would just be PERFECT. :: sigh ::

Anyway, happy 2010!!

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Personal: Did you ever just feel like a jerk?

Okay, first off, I have a confession to make.. Those few days I didn’t post anything – I was down South visiting my family. For Christmas.

Okay, my husband and I don’t celebrate Christmas (though I did buy a glitter poinsettia and put it on the coffee table in the living room, next to all our Christmas cards), but my family does.. and they still get us gifts, which, being the materialistic individuals we are – we don’t complain about!

My mom and dad always ask what we want, and we always suffer over our list throughout the year, trying to think of something we wouldn’t spend money on for ourselves. Our Christmas gifts are a time when frivolity and fun are allowed to enter the financial picture.

Eventually, my husband decided on either a leather jacket, or a pocket camera. I, on the other hand, had my heart set on an iPod Touch. One of the evil 64GB ones I could dump my whole media library on, as well as load up with a gajillion fun, albeit useless, applications.

Secure in my belief that a shiny box from Apple was going to be under the tree, I spend the two nights before Christmas Day browsing through the iTunes app store, looking for interesting little doo-hickeys that caught my eye. On Christmas Eve, I went to sleep excited and content.

Christmas morning, I woke up after literally about two hours of sleep. (I was at my dad’s house and have trouble falling asleep in different beds) My husband and I got dressed, brushed our teeth, wiped the gunk out of our eyes and waddled into the living room where people were distributing gifts.

First off, I got some little things, like some snowman mugs, a few cards full of cash (always a pleasure!), a tin of hot chocolate, a DVD player for the living room (our other one had broken), a bottle of Chanel No. 5 (sublime!).. But no iPod. I didn’t see Sadik get his leather jacket or camera either.

Eventually, my dad came over with a BIIIIIIIIG box. My husband and I looked curiously at each other. I asked him to open it, and he did, and what did we find?

Yes. A television. Not just any television, but a 32″, Samsung LCD. Now, I got happy (who wouldn’t be?), but inside, I was disappointed. I felt like an asshole.

You see – the Mr. and I had been in the market for a television. We have spent more than a year wistfully browsing the stores for the perfect television in our budget. We decided that we’d like to go for something at least 37″, but more in the range of 40″-46″ for our living room.

Now, I said ‘we’ earlier, but I should clarify. Mostly the television was my husband’s thing. Every time he was looking at televisions, I’d be wishing for a treadmill. You see, we already have two televisions, albeit – old, clunky, standard models around ten years old. Two televisions, in my opinion, were even one too many. I had only recently given in to the idea of having a tv in the bedroom. A pretty, big, modern looking tv sure would be nice looking in the living room, but that’s about as excited as I got regarding them.

Now, with this twinge of disappointment, I ended up feeling like a major asshole. Seriously.. A majorly stuck-up asshole. I mean, who was I to feel disappointed in something that was so nice? Something that most people would LOVE to get on Christmas morning instead of the usual ugly sweater or maybe a few DVD’s. Here I was getting a huge and beautiful gift, and feeling disappointed about it.

Later on, my brother explained why this had happened. Basically, my dad wanted to have something impressive under the Christmas tree. He didn’t just want to give my husband a little box with a camera, and me a little box with an iPod. He wanted to make an impression. Hence, the tv. I mean, in his mind, and my brother’s mind.. Who wouldn’t want a tv? (and yeah, of course, they’re guys!)

My brother said he picked up the nicest tv in the Christmas budget and got that one, so that we could return it and use the money to get whatever we wanted later on. The thing my little brother didn’t understand (little bro has always lived with my dad who used to be quite well off, and now little bro pulls in a six-figure salary himself).. Is that you can’t give a television to a couple.. and expect the male in the couple to exchange that television for a fun little doo-hickey for his wife. It just doesn’t happen.

On the way home the next day, I actually cried in the car because I felt like such a monster. I should be happy. I should be grateful. I decided to make my husband happy, that we would keep the television, return it and put the money towards an upgrade to a 42″ television package. As much as I really disliked the idea, I figured it would make my husband happy, and once we had it installed in the living room, it would make me feel better just by virtue of it looking so much nicer than our heavy looking 26″ standard tv.

Regarding my stupid and frivolous iPod Touch.. I told myself if I got rid of some of the stuff in the house and sold it (essentially cleaning up), that I could use the money to buy my silly little iPod. Thing is, even thinking about that, I feel bad about that. Like I should be being more practical.

I don’t know.. I still feel like a major ass.

Article Share: Happy Birthday Jesus! (Or is it?)

When was Jesus really born? Would there really be 2,009 candles on his cake if he was counting?

If you’re curious, check out this link:

http://bible.org/article/birth-jesus-christ

Recipe: Sufganiyot (AKA: Israeli-style jelly donuts) – Come to mama!

Sufganiyot are widely consumed in Israel in the weeks leading up to and including the Hanukkah holiday. At Hanukkah, Jews observe the custom of eating fried foods in commemoration of the miracle associated with the Temple oil. While potato pancakes (latkes or levivot) are also eaten in Israel, sufganiyot are considered a more “Israeli” Hanukkah treat.

(Excerpt above from Wikipedia)

For an authoritative explanation of them, as well as an extensive variety of recipes (including baked and vegan!) and  how-to videos, please visit:  http://www.sufganiyot.com/

For a recipe created especially for baking with children, please visit: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Sufganiyot-40003

Traditional Sufganiyot Recipe

by admin on November 8, 2009 (taken from: http://www.sufganiyot.com/)

A classic sufganiyot recipe sure to be cherished by your family.

Ingredients:

  • 2 packets active dry yeast (1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water (105°F to 115°F)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon grated Lemon:Lemon:lemon zest (about 1 medium lemon)
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm milk (105°F to 115°F)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup jelly, thick jam, or marmalade
  • 6 cups (1 1/2 quarts) vegetable oil, for frying
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting
  1. Place yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer, add warm water, and stir to dissolve. Stir in sugarand let stand until foaming, about 5 minutes. Combine flour, salt, cinnamon, and grated lemon zest in a separate medium bowl.
  2. Fit the dough hook onto the electric stand mixer, add yolks and milk to the yeast mixture, and mix on medium low until evenly incorporated. Add the flour mixture and room-temperature butter, and mix until it comes together. Mix on medium high for an additional 5 minutes. (Dough will be very sticky.)
  3. Put dough in a large, clean, lightly oiled bowl, and turn to coat in oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
  4. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. (Use just enough flour so that the dough doesn’t stick to the rolling pin.)
  5. Using a 2-inch-diameter biscuit cutter, glass, or mug, cut rounds out of the dough; reserve remaining dough. Place rounds on a lightly floured baking sheet; set aside. Gather remaining dough into a ball and roll out again; do this until you have 60 rounds.
  6. Place 1 scant teaspoon jelly in the centers of half, or 30, of the rounds. Brush the edges of the jelly rounds with the reserved egg whites, and top with another dough circle. Pinch the edges to seal the doughnuts. Cover with a towel, put in a warm place, and let rise another 30 minutes.
  7. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot until it reaches 350°F. Drop the doughnuts in the oil, four or five at a time, and turn when they are golden brown, about 2 1/2 minutes per side. Drain on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet lined with paper towels.
  8. Repeat with remaining doughnuts. When cool enough to handle, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve!

On a personal note,  I (BadMuslim) have been told that it’s a mark of the baker’s skill if the doughnuts all bear a pale ring around the middle where the dough was less fried between flipping (as seen in the photo above).. Take it on as a personal challenge! 🙂

Article Share: Hanukkah with a climate-change message

Original article can be found at the Philadelphia Enquirer online, or by clicking here: http://www.philly.com/philly/living/green/20091211_Hanukkah_with_a_climate-change_message.html

By Dianna Marder

Inquirer Staff Writer

The Jewish festival of lights begins at sundown tonight, and some say that to celebrate correctly this year, you might need a bicycle and a bottle of olive oil.

That’s because Hanukkah, which was a minor star on the celebratory horizon for generations, is being recast – again. And, just as at Hanukkah’s 1879 reincarnation, Philadelphians are at ground zero of the shift.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center in West Mount Airy, who is among the change-seekers, reminds all who will listen that the Hanukkah story is about one day’s supply of oil lasting eight days.

“Can there be a more perfect occasion to focus on energy conservation and breaking our dependence on fossil fuel?” the rabbi asks.

But even he was not aware that 130 years ago a group of young Jewish leaders from Philadelphia and New York was part of a nationwide movement to save Hanukkah from the shadow of an increasingly secular Christmas.

Jonathan D. Sarna, chief historian for the National Museum of American Jewish History and author of American Judaism, notes that Christmas became a national holiday in 1870. Recasting Hanukkah as a fun winter festival made sense then, Sarna says, just as emphasizing conservation does now.

Waskow is hoping multitudes of Jews and environmentalists will show up for a climate-change vigil at Independence Mall at 6:15 tomorrow night.

With the flick of a switch, “candles” will be lit on an electric menorah there, and, Waskow says, a big turnout will send a pointed message to world leaders meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Meanwhile, hipsters in Northern Liberties have their own nine-foot, solar-powered menorah in Liberty Lands Park at Third and Poplar Streets, courtesy of the Jewish Center of Northern Liberties.

Elsewhere in the loosely organized Jewish Renewal movement nationwide, efforts are under way to get 600,000 signatures on a Jewish Climate Change Pledge (2,272 and counting at jewishclimatecampaign.org).

Waskow says everyone can do something to achieve the miracle of energy conservation. Such as?

Give up your car for a day (that’s where the bike comes in). Switch to wind power at home and suggest an energy audit at your place of work or worship. Urge legislation to reduce subsidies for highways and increase them for mass transit. Light your menorah with beeswax candles, which do not contain the petroleum by-products of paraffin candles, or use good-old olive oil, the apparent choice of the ancients.

All this for a B-list holiday?

Historically, Hanukkah marks events of 165 B.C. The ruling Hellenistic empire imposed restrictions on Jewish worship to force assimilation, and ransacked the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, extinguishing the eternal flame.

The Maccabees, a band of Jewish guerrilla fighters, fought back and secured the temple, but found only enough oil there to keep the flame lit for one day. Yet the light burned for eight days, long enough to make more oil.

Thus, a minor holiday was born.

Really minor – beneath not only Yom Kippur and Passover, but less significant by some accounts than the harvest festival of Sukkot, which hardly registers with most Christians.

Hanukkah might have remained a tier-two occasion if not for that group of young Jewish leaders in 1879, Sarna says. Its members saw themselves as fighting the same uphill battle against assimilation the Maccabees had taken on centuries earlier.

So on a Tuesday night in December, they rented the Academy of Music in New York for a festival aimed at making Hanukkah meaningful and fun for young adults.

Meanwhile, in Cincinnati, Rabbi Max Lilienthal was doing the same for children, says Dianne Ashton of Rowan University, who is writing a history of Hanukkah.

Lilienthal saw that most churches had Christmas festivals for children, “keeping them in happy expectation for their religion.”

Aiming for “a Hanukkah as grand and glorious as any Christmas,” Lilienthal organized a celebration in his congregation and encouraged others to do the same.

History bears witness to the success of those efforts.

Hanukkah is now a household word. Larger-than-life menorahs stand at Independence Hall, at the White House, and in major suburban shopping malls. Even Jews who ignore more important holidays eat latkes. And children enjoy eight days of gift-getting, even if some of those packages contain socks.

While interfaith marriage still looms large as a challenge to American Jewry, Waskow says, the time is right for this next shift. The idea, he says, is to add energy conservation to Hanukkah’s message without detracting from the antiassimilation tract.

“Religion in the U.S. always reflects cultural changes,” says Ashton. “So this is completely appropriate as far as I can tell. I’m not surprised.”

Question: Are we allowed to give Christmas presents to our non-muslim neighbours as a gesture of good-will?

For the answer, please follow the link below:

http://qa.sunnipath.com/issue_view.asp?HD=7&ID=12050&CATE=1

Personal: Happy Hanukkah!

Since I wasn’t able to get on here last night, (and since observation began yesterday evening at sunset) I’d like to extend my greetings to any Jewish readers who may stumble upon this. “Chag urim sameach!”

To those of you with Jewish friends – now would be a great time to send them a card or give them a call. A little good will goes a long way, and everyone likes a little extra love during their holidays. 🙂

BEST WISHES & HAPPY HANUKKAH!

For those of you who’d like to learn more about the significance of Hanukkah, albeit an overview, please visit:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannukah